Still alive and a review

Hi everyone!

I want to start by first saying a heartfelt thank you to all of you. Really. The outpouring of support and encouragement that I’ve received over the last few weeks has been amazing. I was so very worried when I hit “publish post” on that last post that I would alienate myself from everyone. So, imagine my surprise when the comments (both here and on Facebook), tweets, and emails started pouring in. Y’all are amazing. And you made me cry, but in a good way. ๐Ÿ™‚

Since I last spoke (typed?) with you, I’ve gone on a much needed vacation, finished up my last publication project, rearranged my entire room, and spent a lot of time thinking. That last one is often the hardest. Mostly ’cause I’m a hard core planner and I’m not sure where I’m going yet.

My vacation was awesome, but I won’t go into details here. As many of you know, I try very hard to keep this blog focused on the business end of things. I will say, though, that if you can get to St. Augustine, Florida, do it. We stayed for four days there and totally did the touristy thing. I bought a Colonial Loom while there and have been playing around with weaving. I will share a couple of fiber related pictures with you, though!

This is a cool huge floor loom that was in the government house. I’m sure it still works. I will tell you, after doing a bit of weaving on a frame loom, I can totally see how someone came up with the idea of automating as much of the process as possible. ๐Ÿ™‚

We found this spinning wheel in one of the Dow Historic Homes. So neat!

Ok, so when I got home from vacation I finished up my publication project. This is where I want to share a bit of a review. Back when I was at TNNA, I received in my goody bag at the Designer Dinner a pair of the Crochet Dude Curved Blade Snips.

These snips? In one word? AWESOME.

They’re super sharp. They fit so well in the palm of your hand. And because the blades are curved, they can snug up against your project to snip your ends. These things are so cool and so simple and so awesome. They have honestly replaced my scissors in my work basket.

This year, if you have a crafter of any kind on your gift list (including seamstresses), buy them a pair of these. Honestly, they’re so cool. Drew really did a great thing coming up with these.

And finally, the rearranging. I’ve shared pics before of how my room was set up. It was mostly set up for what I call production style crochet. Which is what I’m trying to get out of for my own sanity. So, the room had to be changed. Tuesday was what I called Operation Room Flip on Twitter. I went from my studio space taking up 40% of my room to my room finally being a bedroom and living space. My worktable became my desk and is sitting in the corner of my room. It’s now maybe 10% of my room. I downsized my yarn and donated a lot of it to the charity crafting group at my church. I only kept the yarn that really spoke to me. Yarn I wanted to feature in my design line (or yarn that I had already tapped for my personal projects). And by the end of Tuesday? I was able to breathe again.

Last night an amazing thing happened. I was doing some final tweaks to my room and setting things up. And while doing that I thought, “You know, I need to make something to go right there. I think I even have those colors in my stash and can totally do it this way.” Nope, not going into details on what it was until I get it hashed out. But, it’s a great sign. The creativity is still flowing a bit. I just need to get the fingers to want to do it.

So, please continue the good thoughts. They’re working and I greatly appreciate it. Much love to all of you!

Knitting & Crocheting Blog Week: Day Three – Tidy Mind, Tidy Stitches

It’s Day Three!

Here’s today’s prompt:

How do you keep your yarn wrangling organised?

Ah, funny you should ask this today! Tomorrow the Knit and Crochet Show will release the info about the classes for the summer show before registration opens on April 7th. Why am I mentioning this? Because, I’m teaching a class on organizing your space at the summer show! I hope you’ll come out and take the class, we’re going to have lots of fun. I’ve been gathering all kinds of cool info to share.

Anyway, how do I organize my yarn?

As you may have read back in my designing series, I live in a 225 square foot room in my parents’ home. It was the old family room, so it does not have closets. Let me go fix a cup of coffee while that sinks in for you: I live in a tiny room with no closets and I’m a designer.

Ok, I’m back, have you processed that? Yeah. I won’t even discuss the fact that this house was built in the 70s so I only have one outlet on each wall. ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, for new readers, in this tiny little room I have bedroom stuff, living room stuff, and a full studio. 225 square feet. I’m not a math person by any means, but I can tell you that’s too much stuff and not a lot of room.

However, I have gut checks with everyone who comes in my room and other than a tiny little spot against the wall that holds luggage totes, nothing looks too cluttered. I also declutter every week because I’ve watched too many episodes of Hoarders. If you can watch that show and not go and declutter something in your house, you’re a stronger person than me.

My room is divided into zones. Unfortunately, when I got my comfy chair I had to move my zones around a bit. So, my divider wall that I used to have by my table is now against the wall by my bed. It works there, I use the top half for a bookcase and the bins for holding swatches and projects.

My yarn, though, my yarn lives under my table. Here, let me show you it:

This is an older photo, and I’ve added a few since then (but there’s not a lot of light in here right now, so no new photos). I use plastic bins and at some point I will buy all matching ones (since it will make it easier to stack them). My yarn is divided mostly by fiber:

Big plastic bin: Acrylic (mostly Red Heart, TLC, etc)
Skinny plastic bin: Simply Soft & other Caron yarns (I’ve just always kept them separate)
Brown bin: Cottons
Green bin: Misc yarns I either need soon for swatching or yarns I can’t figure out where to put them (this bin doesn’t have a lid, so it becomes my “Gotta refile that yarn” bin and every week or so I go through and put yarn away)
Big clear bin: Thread….holy cow do I have a lot of thread
Skinny plastic bin: Wools
Little plastic bin: Lace weight yarns

Over in my storage unit there is a special cloth bin for sock yarn because that is holy and should be treated with respect. Amen.

Every few months I go through and take a hard look at my yarn and destash a lot of it. Last time I did this I gave away a huge black garbage bag full of yarn. And I’m still left with bins that are stuffed full. And it just keeps coming in (as I stare at a stack of yarn I just got for a project).

Organizing is an ongoing process. It’s not something you do and then you’re done. Unless you don’t interact with the stuff you’ve just organized. Otherwise, you have to constantly go back through things and see what’s working and what’s not. The reason my yarn got reorganized was because it wasn’t working for me anymore. It’ll probably get reorganized again once I go through to destash a second time.

So, a bit of a shorter post today (I can’t give away all my secrets that I’ll be teaching about!), but I hope it helped you. Until tomorrow!

Stay tuned, I’ll have a post each day through Sunday, answering the prompts given at Eskimimi Knits’ site. If you want to read the rest of the blogs that are also posting, you can do a google search on this term: 2KCBWDAY3. Everyone participating will have that term in their post and you can follow along that way. ๐Ÿ™‚

Organizing tool I love

Oh, I know, a rather boring topic. ๐Ÿ™‚ But, next week I’m doing the Blog Week so the stuff I thought about talking about today will fit in the topics for that, and well, I needed to save it.

However, as I stated back in my designing series, organizing is a constant thing that always changes. Well, at least it does for me. I’m always finding new and better ways to organize my time, my space, my stuff.

Now, for those who know me well, know that I thrive on to do lists. I have multiple ones. Probably not the best option, but because I have a lot of different types of things going on, I need different lists for each one. I have a general master list, I have lists for each project, I have lists for each section of my business, and I have my weekly and daily to-do lists. What I didn’t have was one place where I could write down everything, move it around easily, edit easily, and have multiple sub tasks. I’ve tried every task manager I could find online and on my iPod. I also use a regular Day Timer, but this holds only my weekly and daily lists otherwise I get overwhelmed.

Last week I was reading through many of the blogs I follow, and the website Workflowy was mentioned. I checked it out because it was free and I was curious.

Well, I then spent the next hour setting up my list. I have everything I need to do written out. For me, my main “tasks” are: “Accepted Projects” (things with deadlines), “Fibers By Tracie line” (you know, ’cause this is the one thing that I end up letting go by the wayside when I get busy), “Submissions” (one of those many plates I have to keep spinning), “Classes” (since I’m working on my lesson plans), “Long Range Planning” (self explanatory), and then I have a couple other items that are more personal. Underneath each of these I have many many subtasks (and some going even deeper in subtasks).

The things I love about this website? Oh, let me count the ways:

1. I can expand and collapse as much as I want. So, I can show the one thing I’m working on as expanded and everything else doesn’t distract me.

2. I can have as many items as I want. There is no limit that I’ve found yet.

3. I can move items around. Sometimes due dates change, or something new comes in that’s due before something already on the list…now I can move things around with no trouble.

4. When something is done, I mark it as complete and a happy little line goes through it.

5. If I get too many crossed out things, I can hide completed items with the click of a button.

6. It automatically saves as I type. (Awesome!)

7. I can delete items easily.

8. It’s clean and streamlined and not cluttered by buttons and forms and all that.

9. It’s super easy to use.

10. It fits my needs.

Yeah. No, I’m not being paid by them. I’m just so incredibly happy to find something that works for the way my brain works. When I tweeted about this the day after I found it, one of my designing friends commented “It’s like having my brain on paper”. Yes. This. Exactly.

Now, it is not a time management tool. This is not a scheduler. It’s not a calender. It is simply a dynamic to-do list.

And that’s all I need. I use a paper calendar backed up with a Google calender. Yes, I somewhat believe in redundancy in my scheduling programs. But that’s my issue. ๐Ÿ™‚

So, if you’re like me and love to-do lists, but need something to hold your entire “brain”, then give this a try. It’s free, and it works.

Getting more organized

Last week, Vashti Braha posted an incredible blog post on How to Journal About Your Crochet Ideas. I read it five or six times. I mulled it over. I chatted with her through Twitter about how I was totally stealing that idea. ๐Ÿ™‚

I then spent the weekend thinking it over. If I did this, would I use it? What differentiates it from the other five or six notepads, graph paper pads, and sketchbooks around the house?

Tuesday night I got the notebook she mentioned. I dutifully numbered every page and then set it aside. I was scared to write in it. What if I did it wrong? I scoured the net for information on what to put into it, how to use it, etc. I even sent an email to Vashti. ๐Ÿ™‚

Wednesday morning I got up and grabbed the notebook. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to write my contact info on the first page. Then I set it back down. Thought about how I was going to use it. It was important to me that the info was written in ink, but so much of my design work is done in pencil and scribbled and erased and reworked.

Last night I started swatching for a submission. I was on the third swatch when I realized that I needed a better way to keep track of what I was swatching and what I liked and didn’t like about that swatch. I grabbed the notebook, flipped to page 2 and began writing. I love the gridded aspect of the notebook because it made it much neater. I wrote down what the stitch pattern was, the hook used, and then my thoughts on it. I’m a firm believer that there are no bad stitch patterns and no bad swatches. Everything is a lesson. So while the first two swatches weren’t good for the application I wanted them in, they had merits for other projects. Those notes went in with the info. I even made space on the facing page to put the swatches (still figuring out the best way to do that…leaning currently to tape).

The next page is currently being used to write out my cover letter, make notes on the pattern idea and what things I need to work out.

I’ve decided that it’s my design notebook. So there’s no way to do it wrong. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m not going to use it for working out the details (you know, the math) of a design, but for chronicling the ideas as they form. And for keeping up with where things are and where they’re going. Once the scribbly parts are done, I may add that info to the design ideas. Swatches will go in here as appropriate. It’ll also be a great place to flesh out the ideas I have in my head for a book. Not saying I’m ready to do that yet, but I do have some ideas in my head.

Okay, that’s all from me. Work continues on design contest entries. Still not sure yet if I’m only submitting one or two. I’m seriously in love with the idea I’m working on (known as entry #2) and not so much with the first idea. I still may do it, but it’s not as exciting as the current one.

Other than that, not a lot going on. John is working a temporary job for this week and next and there is a possibility it can be extended or made permanent. Waiting on budgets to see if it can happen. Fingers crossed please as it is a great job for him and he’s having a great time. ๐Ÿ™‚

Have a fabulous holiday weekend! I’ll be taking Monday off to spend the day with my family. Doesn’t mean I won’t be crocheting, just means I won’t be crocheting on work stuff. Unless a fabulous idea pops up. But at least now I have somewhere to write it down.

Whew, what a week!

Sorry about the lack of posting. John’s been home this week and well, after four months of only seeing him on weekends, spending time with him has been way more important than updating this. ๐Ÿ™‚

Also I’ve been busy cleaning and organizing and now can finally show you my studio!

Tuesday we picked up a new laptop for me. It was on clearance and was just such a great deal we couldn’t turn it down. So now I have a shiny new fast laptop. ๐Ÿ™‚

Wednesday we went and picked up the file cabinets and a pretty piece of wood for a new desk for me.

Yesterday was a wash because I had a migraine so I spent most of the day on the sofa.

Today we went and picked up a few desk things (and a week long dry erase board with a tack strip) and I finished the organization.

So, here are the pictures of the new studio. ๐Ÿ™‚ With a few things blocked out ’cause they contain super secret info.

This is the view from my doorway:

Here’s the view of my new desk with the white board and weekly white board above it. I have my plastic organizing drawers to the side and into the corner.

In the corner by the desk you can see my photo/note holder. It holds pictures of my loved ones, things that inspire me, and notes and such.

The next corner I have my crochet chair and side table. Yes, that’s a lava lamp. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s a great corner to sit in because throughout most of the day I have great natural light.

Along the other wall (behind me when I’m sitting at the desk) is my fold out table and bookcases. It’s also where my bulletin board is where I tack up swatches to look at them for a while. Also, my TV is in the corner where my two cubbies meet. One cubbie works as a bookcase while the other holds my “inspirational” yarn.

Here is the picture of behind the door. I have an over the door hook to hang my bags on there. I love bags.

And here is where all the rest of my yarn lives. Inside the closet in carefully labeled bins.

Oh, and the picture of my newest bit of decoration…a greyhound rug that likes to put himself right behind my desk chair or right in the middle of the floor.

Okay, I’m off. From the sounds of it, John will be home for at least another week, although he might be at some kind of training next week. We’re not sure yet. Have a great weekend!

Happy Monday

I hope everyone had a great weekend.

I had a very busy Saturday which caused a very lazy Sunday. I did crochet some over the weekend. I worked on my sock Friday night and finished it, started the second sock and then worked on it on the way to John’s dad’s house. I didn’t crochet there simply because it was too hot and I was watching Midnight most of the time. On the ride home I was still too hot to work on anything.

Sunday I didn’t feel like working on the sock and instead grabbed the big ball of blue cotton I picked up a while ago. I started another dishtowel using my pattern for the Totally Utilitarian Dishtowel. I’m about half way through with it.

Today I’ve been working on the design that got rejected. I’m reworking it, have already retyped the proposal, and will have it back out the door by next week. I also went out and picked up a calendar/planner to keep track of all that’s going on. So I’m feeling more organized already. I also got the graphics finished for the Ave Maria skirt. The only thing I’m waiting on now is finishing up pictures.

Tomorrow I’ll work more on the design that’s being submitted. I also need to follow up on 2 possible students. And then I need to finish up the Ave Maria pattern.

I’m thinking about possibly doing a trunk show of sorts. I have a lot of things that I’ve made that I never wear or use. One of the troubles of being a process crocheter. I also have my prototypes of some of the designs. I don’t know, I haven’t fully thought this through yet. I would need to find a place to have it (not our house), find a way to advertise it, and then hope people show up. Like I said, it’s still in preliminary thought stage. I do not want to do this online. I just don’t. I would rather sell over a weekend here locally. I’m open to suggestions, ideas, interest, etc.

Okay, time to play with some more yarn. Have a good night everyone!

Project updates

I’m going to try to do this every week, so I can see where I am realistically. It will be in a bit of code, so to all my readers, sorry. ๐Ÿ™‚ The numbers refer to the project numbers in my spreadsheet.

#107: I need to pull that one back out and finish it. Likely self-publish and so it should be quick and easy to finish.

#108: I need to make another one out of my notes. They’re difficult to read (should have typed it up right after I made it) so I need to redo. This would be why I now type the pattern as I go here on the laptop.

#109: I may go up a hook size on the 2nd prototype. Or I may just measure the first prototype, check the pattern, and go ahead and publish.

#110: This needs to be pulled out and figure out where the issue is on the pattern. The first prototype didn’t make me happy. So now it’s time to play with it and make it work.

#111: Long term project, but I need to get more yarn and figure out where I am on this. This could be VERY lucrative if it works like is in my head.

#112: While out tomorrow get an envelope for returning swatch to me and mail this out already!

#119: Need to hunt through the studio again and see what I did with the notes from this pattern. If I threw it out in a fit of stupidity I will be very very unhappy.

#124: This actually takes priority after #112. I need to finish tweaking this pattern and get it ready to go. It’s for a lesson I’m teaching so I need to get it going.

Yeah, I know, I skipped some numbers. Things go on the spreadsheet as I come up with ideas. So a lot of things are still in “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if I…” stage. The numbers above are things that are currently highlighted as “Pay attention and focus” items. I’d like to change those colors to published in the next 2 weeks.

I also need to figure out a purse for my niece. I wanted to come up with my own design for it, but I may just have to go with something prepublished to get it done in time. We’ll see.

That’s all from here. Tomorrow I’ll be out to get my taxes done. Here’s hoping for a good refund (I know I’m getting some back with just my old job’s W-2) so I can get some things taken care of. ๐Ÿ™‚

Working on the weekend

You know, with all the work I did on SSP#1 as we got down to the wire, you’d think I’d take a few days off. You’d think that, wouldn’t you?

I thought that. I thought about it for about 20 minutes.

Friday I was going to take a day off. What did I do? Finish a submission swatch to send out later this week. I need to block it, write up a proposal, tweak the pattern, and then get it ready to go (deadline’s a ways away yet).

Saturday I got up and worked on a class sample, taught a group of 6 8-11 year old girls, came home, finalized the adoption of Midnight, and then started on another design.

What have I done today? Besides nursing a migraine, I’ve been working on the same design. This one will be hitting Ravelry and here probably Monday, maybe Tuesday at this rate (due to migraine). The pattern is written and one variation has been tested, and I’m currently crocheting the other version. I should be finished by tomorrow so I can get pics, load them into the pattern, and then convert to PDF and upload away. ๐Ÿ™‚

You’d think I’d have used this time to crochet for me. Eh, in the long run this will be for me. Sure, the design I’ve been working on this weekend is going to be offered for free, but I know that the more I get my name out there and my patterns recognized as pretty decent, then the greater the chance that people will want to buy my other patterns as I put them up. I do have 3-4 designs that will go up on Lulu.com for purchase download. I will start working on those this week, too.

Having a spreadsheet is the biggest help. It’s nothing fancy, just a few columns. I’ll even fill you in on what they are (since I have a few designers who read here).

Column 1: ID number (for invoicing and organization purposes)
Column 2: Project Name
Column 3: Type of project
Column 4: Status (done, in progress, swatch, idea, with a tester, etc)
Column 5: Finished (yes/no….and this is for the final product)
Column 6: Written (yes/no/notes…..where I am on the actual pattern)
Column 7: Free? (yes/no….this helps in my planning stages if I know ahead of time if I’m going to offer it for free)
Column 8: Lulu? (yes/no….again, same reasoning as 7)
Column 9: Submitted? (yes/no/to be…lets me know where I am on that)
Column 10: Where? (for the submitted part…this also includes uploading to Ravelry)
Column 11: When? (especially important for magazine and book submissions)
Column 12: Final sent? (again, mostly for submissions)
Column 13: When?
Column 14: Amt. Paid (this is helpful to keep track of what I set my revenue at for Lulu and what fees I’ve been promised for submissions).

Right now any time I have an idea, I log it in the spreadsheet and list it as just an idea. Then I open a document and make my notes for it in there. Completed items have their own folders on the computer (contains notes, proposals, patterns, pdf’s, etc).

I’m scaring myself I’m so freaking organized. Now I just need that to move to my studio and I’ll be in good shape. I think over the next few weeks as I work through some of these other design ideas, I’ll end up putting things where they need to go.

Anyway, now I need to bug John about figuring something out for dinner and then I’ll likely get back to work on this design. ๐Ÿ™‚ Keep an eye out, I’ll post here when it’s uploaded.

And now I’ll leave you with a non-crochet pic. It’s from our adoption yesterday.

Another day

I got another pattern out to a tester today. ๐Ÿ™‚ Now, before anyone thinks I’m just cranking these out each day, both patterns that have gone out have been in the works for a while and just snoozing in my studio. Which is one of my big problems. I come up with great ideas. But…I have too much to do already. So right now I’m working on patterns that are pretty repetitive (or based on motifs) so that once I get part of it done, I can pass it off to someone quicker to make it for me. The “testers” I have right now are a blend of pattern tester and contract crocheter. The complicated patterns I’m still working on myself. Currently there are 2 projects in the works that are with me (SSP#1 and another idea and I’m working on) and a few more in the back of my head.

Seriously, I need to get someone to make me a schedule. A project manager. Not John. Sorry, babe, I love you and all, but no. ๐Ÿ™‚ As soon as I get SSP#1 done and out the door, I’m going to sit down and make a list of where my projects are and what’s in my head. I also need to start on my entry for the design competition with the CGOA. I’d love to be able to enter my original pattern idea.

In other news, thankfully it’s getting cool. Even if only for a day or two. Seriously, today the high was mid 60s and tomorrow it will be upper 60s and by the weekend we’ll be back in the 80s. Boo. But, tomorrow I can wear my sweater to the crochet meeting. So that makes me happy. ๐Ÿ™‚

Okay, back to work. Working late tonight since John is as well.

It is possible to have too many patterns

That is a picture of my pattern stacks. That is after 2 hours and half of that expandable file has been filled. This is not including the 3 magazine holders full of magazines, a 3″ binder filled with leaflets, another magazine holder half full with leaflets, and an entire bookshelf of books. Eek.

Now, do you see why I need to find some way to organize this mess? The only thing I can think of is to do a spreadsheet with the pattern names and type of pattern (this includes those ones tucked in magazines and books that I like) so I can sort by type and find where it is located. I started one, I just need to get working on it more.

First step, though, is to get them sorted correctly. And I’m almost there. I will have 2 full expandable files when I’m done. Thank goodness I got them as a 2 pack for pretty cheap at Target. I’m hoping to have this part done tonight. That will be a big improvement on the studio. Then I can get the yarn sorted – filling the bins correctly now that I’ve emptied them of the junk. ๐Ÿ™‚

Okay, back to the fray. Gotta get this done. ๐Ÿ™‚

Oh, and the package has been sent! They should have it in 2 days and then I’ll just be waiting to hear what the decision is. Gah, that’s the worst part! Guess I better just move on to more designs to keep my head busy.

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